11/22/63 By Stephen King Review

skGenre: Adult Fiction, Historical Fiction

Judging the Cover: I love it!

Plot according to Goodreads: Life can turn on a dime—or stumble into the extraordinary, as it does for Jake Epping, a high school English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine. While grading essays by his GED students, Jake reads a gruesome, enthralling piece penned by janitor Harry Dunning: fifty years ago, Harry somehow survived his father’s sledgehammer slaughter of his entire family. Jake is blown away…but an even more bizarre secret comes to light when Jake’s friend Al, owner of the local diner, enlists Jake to take over the mission that has become his obsession—to prevent the Kennedy assassination. How? By stepping through a portal in the diner’s storeroom, and into the era of Ike and Elvis, of big American cars, sock hops, and cigarette smoke… Finding himself in warmhearted Jodie, Texas, Jake begins a new life. But all turns in the road lead to a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald. The course of history is about to be rewritten…and become heart-stoppingly suspenseful.

My Thoughts: I had a love/dislike relationship with this book while reading it. There were times when I was loving the story and was engrossed in the world and then there were times when I wanted to put the book down permanently because I was getting lost in all the talk about political figures and situations that I was not familiar with. By the end, I was feeling very satisfied (partly because I finished the massive 849 page beast of a book) with how everything was presented.

The Good: Stephen King writes like no one else and I consider him one of the most gifted authors of our time. He tells a story with so much detail that the reader feels like they are a part of the world he has created. The characters were rich and the story was woven together very well. I am not generally a fan of romance in books but I fell in love with the romance in this story. The relationship developed very realistically and it was true love.

I also learned a lot about the Kennedy assassination and the events surrounding it while reading this book. I found myself googling many of the characters in the book to learn more and also to check the credibility of the story (I found that Stephen King really did his research for this book).

This book was different from some of the other Stephen King books that I’ve read as it wasn’t scary. Unfortunately, a lot of people have pigeon holed him as a horror genre author and that is not true. He does write some very scary and disturbing books but not all of his books are in that category. I would recommend this to anyone who is interested in the Kennedy assassination, particularly to those who lived through it.

I really felt like I was in 1963 while reading this book, there is something magical about the story. The time travel element was also very fascinating. I found myself thinking about the butterfly effect throughout the day when I wasn’t reading the book.

The ending was also perfect. While reading it, I had a lot of possibilities in my mind of how it would end and King surprised me with an ending that was better than any that I had envisioned. The ending was my favorite part of this book.

What I didn’t Like: The fact that Stephen King is an amazing story teller and loves details is a double-edged sword for me. There were times when the details became too numerous and I would lose interest. I also had some trouble at times keeping the characters straight. There are a lot of characters and sometimes a character from the beginning of the book would be mentioned some 300 pages later. I will try to remember to write down each character and a brief description the next time I pick up a Stephen King book…this would be very helpful.

Personally, I felt that this book was just too long. It is more of a personal preference, but I don’t tend to like books over 400 pages because I start to tire and become bored with the story. Some people love big books, so this may not be an issue for them.

My rating: It was very difficult for me to rate this book but I have decided to give it 3 1/2 out of 5 stars. I enjoyed it and I’m very happy to have read it.

The Quiet Place by Nancy Leigh DeMoss Review

quiet placeGenre: Religion, Non-Fiction, Devotional

Judging the Cover: The photo of this book does not do it justice, this is a beautiful book with a leather cover and embossed title. It also has a built in ribbon bookmark that is very handy.

Description: This is a Christian devotional that has 366 daily devotions that begin with a Bible verse and then have a page of application or explanation to go with the verse. They end with questions that cause the reader to reflect on what they’ve read.

What I Liked: I’ve always enjoyed Nancy Leigh DeMoss as a speaker, I have seen her on videos and feel that she has been blessed with a practical teaching ability. I found these devotions to be impactful and thought provoking. As a Christian, I recognize the importance of spending time daily with God but if I’m being honest, I will admit that I don’t always take the time to do so. This book is wonderful because the devotions are not long but they are still meaningful. I also love that at the end of the book there is a scripture index that shows each devotional based on each book of the Bible. This would be very helpful if you wanted to delve deeper into the meaning of a certain verse.

What I didn’t Like: I really loved everything about this book and can’t find any negative things.

My Rating: 5/5 stars and I would recommend this to anyone who wants a daily devotional that doesn’t take a lot of time to read but uses scripture each day.

I received this book from Moody Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

Lacy Eye by Jessica Treadway Review

lacy eyeI won this book from a Goodreads giveaway. It was released on March 10, 2015 and it’s published by Grand Central Publishing.

Genre: Adult Fiction, Mystery, Suspense

Judging the Cover: The photo on the cover doesn’t appeal to me but I love the lacy font of the title.

Plot according to Goodreads: Hanna Schutt never suspected that her younger daughter’s happiness would lead to her husband’s death and the destruction of their family. When Dawn brings her new boyfriend home from college for a visit, her parents and sister try to hide their doubts because they’re glad that Dawn – always an awkward child – appears to have grown into a confident, mature young woman in her relationship with Rud. But when Hanna and her husband, Joe, are beaten savagely in their bed, Rud becomes the chief suspect and stands trial for Joe’s murder.
Claiming her boyfriend’s innocence, Dawn estranges herself from her mother, who survived the attack with serious injuries and impaired memory. When Rud wins an appeal and Dawn returns to the family home saying she wants to support her mother, Hanna decides to try to remember details of that traumatic night so she can testify to keep her husband’s murderer in jail, never guessing that the process might cause her to question everything she thought she knew about her daughter.

My Thoughts: I loved this book. The story is not fast paced but I found it to be extremely intriguing and thought provoking. The narrator and protagonist, Hanna, really reminded me of my own mother so I felt a strong connection to her.

The Good: The story has a slow simmering pace that slowly reveals the truth in a way that kept my interest. The characters were very well developed and the author did a great job at making them very likeable and unlikeable (depending on the character). The book is narrated by Hanna, the victim of the attack…I liked reading it from her perspective as she slowly remembers what happened the night she was beaten. This book evoked a lot of feelings…feelings of anger, sadness, and frustration. It is very chilling and disturbing at times (which could be a negative but I don’t mind chilling and disturbing)

What I didn’t like: The ending felt very abrupt, almost as if the author accidentally deleted the last page of her manuscript. (I read an advanced readers copy so it could be that the final draft has a more fulfilling ending)

My Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5 stars. Definitely recommended!

The Secret Life Of Cee Cee Wilkes by Diane Chamberlain Review

ccGenre: Adult Fiction, Mystery

Plot according to Goodreads: An unsolved murder. A missing child. A lifetime of deception. In 1977, pregnant Genevieve Russell disappeared. Twenty years later, her remains are discovered and Timothy Gleason is charged with murder. But there is no sign of the unborn child. CeeCee Wilkes knows how Genevieve Russell died, because she was there.

My Thoughts: I own several books by Diane Chamberlain but haven’t read them yet. I had heard many good things about this book so I was eager to read it. I am glad that I finally picked it up and I am looking forward to reading more by this author.

The Good: This story is very thought provoking and caused me to empathize with someone who made some very poor choices. It made me think about the “other side of the story”…the one that you don’t always hear from the press and media. The writing style was very easy and I flew through the book very quickly. The plot was engaging and the character development was done very well.  The author does a great job at painting the picture and allowing the reader to get inside the mind of the main character.

The Not So Good: My main complaint of this book is that the first chapter spoils the majority of the book. I was not surprised by anything that happened throughout the story because I knew it was coming thanks to the first chapter. I am the type of person who lives for the shocking moments of a book so this was a huge disappointment. Had that chapter been omitted, the story would have been much more enjoyable and mysterious. The other issue I had with the book were some unrealistic things that occurred in the story. When a very prominent woman disappears, I would think authorities would spend a great deal of time looking for her, especially if they know that there was foul play involved. The investigation (if there was one) was brushed over and basically ignored. I also felt like some things that were mentioned weren’t explained fully and left me with unanswered questions.

My Rating: This was a solid 4/5 star book for me. I would definitely recommend it to fans of adult fiction.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline Review

rpoGenre: Adult Fiction, Dystopian, Science Fiction

Plot (From back cover): In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS.  Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines-puzzles that are based  on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. But when Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win-and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

My thoughts: If I were to describe this book in one word, it would be fun. This is the book you want to pick up if you want to get lost in a fun world of adventure. I really loved almost everything about this book.

The Good: This book has tons of 80s pop culture references, which made it so much fun. I was born in 1980 and remember playing some of the Atari games mentioned in the book…I also loved the movie references. I found myself googling some of the unfamiliar ones and loved learning things that I didn’t know. Wade, the protagonist, was extremely likeable…he was the kind of character that you have to root for. The world building was perfect, I was able to picture everything that was described so vividly and found myself wishing that OASIS was a real thing. The author points out some of the negative things about living in a virtual world, which I really appreciated. It was a bit scary to realize that the world in this book could easily become a reality based on where we are today.

What I didn’t Like: My main gripe about this book was with 2 pages in the beginning of the book. The author presents his political and religious views in a very “ranty” kind of way that seemed very out of place and uncharacteristic for Wade, the narrator. These pages weren’t relevant to the story and seemed out of place. After reading this, I became very disenchanted with the story and it took me a while to start enjoying it (I even considered dropping it because I found it very offensive). If those 2 pages would have been omitted, this would have easily been a 5 star book for me. I also felt like the last 100 pages dragged a little bit, the action scenes felt a bit too long (but I’m not a huge fan of action scenes).

My Rating: 4/5 stars. I would definitely recommend this book to almost anyone, especially if you loved the 80s (who doesn’t???) or if you’re a gamer.

The Stranger by Harlan Coben Review

The StrangerGenre: Adult Fiction, Mystery, Thriller

Judging the Cover: I like the colors and the houses strung together but I’m not sure I would pick this one up if I wasn’t familiar with the author.

The plot from Goodreads: Married parents Adam and Hannah confront the shocking secret on which their marriage is built—leaving Adam wondering whether he ever truly knew Hannah at all.

My thoughts: I went into this book with no expectations. I was not disappointed. The story is about secrets being revealed and the mysteries that occur after the revelations. I found this story interesting and unpredictable. It wasn’t “unputdownable” but I enjoyed it in its entirety.

The Good: This is the second book I’ve read by Harlan Coben and I love his writing style. It’s straightforward and simple and it’s very easy to fall into. The plot had many facets to it that all came together in the end. The characters were all interesting and even though there were many characters, it was easy to keep track of them.

The Things I Didn’t Like: There really wasn’t anything “special” about this book. I enjoyed it but there was nothing that really stood out and I feel that it won’t be memorable over time.

My Rating: 4/5 stars

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

If I Fall, If I Die by Michael Christie Review

if i fallGenre: Literary Fiction, Adult Fiction

Judging the Cover: The cover doesn’t really convey the story in my opinion but I do like the font and the prominence of the text.

The plot from Goodreads:
Will has never been to the outside, at least not since he can remember. And he has certainly never gotten to know anyone other than his mother, a fiercely loving yet wildly eccentric agoraphobe who drowns in panic at the thought of opening the front door. Their little world comprises only the rooms in their home, each named for various exotic locales and filled with Will’s art projects. Soon the confines of his world close in on Will. Despite his mother’s protestations, Will ventures outside clad in a protective helmet and braces himself for danger. He eventually meets and befriends Jonah, a quiet boy who introduces Will to skateboarding. Will welcomes his new world with enthusiasm, his fears fading and his body hardening with each new bump, scrape, and fall. But life quickly gets complicated.

My Thoughts: I had very high hopes for this book. I found the idea of a boy who has no memories of being outside his home fascinating. Unfortunately, the writing style of this book got in the way of my enjoyment of the story. It was extremely difficult for me to get through and I found myself reading it out of duty rather than enjoyment.

The Good: I loved reading the perspective of Will’s mother, whose agoraphobia has hindered her ability to experience some of  the greatest parts of life. It was interesting to see how she got to that state and I felt a connection to her as I have struggled with anxiety throughout my life that could easily become crippling if left unchecked. It was also fun to see the Outside through Will’s eyes as he experienced it for the first time.

The Not so Good: The main thing about this book that I disliked was the writing style. I felt that it slowed me down and I found myself reading sentences several times to grasp the meaning. Around 100 pages I adjusted to it and it went faster but I still disliked the way the story was written. This may not be a negative for everyone as some people like a more literary style of writing, but my preference is for a straightforward, simple writing style. It also went in a different direction about halfway through the story and I didn’t find myself connecting with that storyline.

My Rating: After some thought, I decided to give this book 2/5 stars.

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

Snowblind by Christopher Golden Review

snowblindHere in Pennsylvania, we tend to get a lot of snow and I love it. I always try to read a “wintry” story at least once during the winter and this was a perfect book to read.

Genre: Horror, Adult Fiction, Thriller

Judging the Cover: I love this cover! It really conveys the feeling of winter and it even has a bit of texture to represent the ice on the trees.

Plot from Goodreads: The small New England town of Coventry had weathered a thousand blizzards…but never one like this. Icy figures danced in the wind and gazed through children’s windows with soul-chilling eyes. People wandered into the whiteout and were never seen again. Families were torn apart, and the town would never be the same.
Now, as a new storm approaches twelve years later, the folks of Coventry are haunted by the memories of that dreadful blizzard and those who were lost in the snow. As old ghosts trickle back, this new storm will prove to be even more terrifying than the last.

My Thoughts: I am not always a fan of stories with paranormal elements but I really enjoyed this one. Each character was interesting and the plot was very interesting. There were times when I was genuinely feeling scared and had to put the book down for a while (especially when I was reading it at night). Definitely worth the read.

The Good: This story had a great atmosphere. The town of Coventry was a place that felt familiar. The characters were all well developed and I was interested in each of their stories. There were some very scary parts in this book and it takes a lot for a book to scare me.

The Not So Good: The ending left me with a few unanswered questions and I would have loved an epilogue to wrap things up.

My Rating: This was a solid 4 star book for me…it wasn’t “unputdownable” but it was highly enjoyable. Definitely recommended for fans of a good ghost story.